Montpelier Winter 2000
Curtis Lee Wilton ('74) of Chesterfield, Va., is not only a player, coach and lover of lacrosse, but also an inventor of the first miniature, tabletop lacrosse game. Wilton was raised in upstate New York, where lacrosse is as popular as football is in Texas. He officially embraced the game in 1963, when as an eighth-grader, he managed his high school team. By his sophomore year he was playing varsity and was captain his senior year.
Wilton attended Jefferson Community College in New York and finished his bachelor's degree at Bridgewater College. He entered JMU's graduate program and earned his master's in business education in 1974. Then he moved to Chesterfield County, where he taught and coached wrestling at a local high school. In 1980, he founded and coached the Chesterfield County boys' lacrosse program. After nine successful years, he founded a girls' team in 1989, and has coached them for 10 years. During his tenure as founder and coach, Wilton created a new way to enjoy the game - miniature lacrosse. Similar to miniature soccer, Wilton's game allows lacrosse fans to try their skills on a different level.
Wilton noticed how much fun people had at the Foosball tables, while working at a family recreation center. He decided that his favorite sport also deserved a miniature version. He began by carving a miniature lacrosse stick out of plastic, sewed it together with small nylon string, and made a small ball out of masking tape. He constructed a five-foot game table five and hooked the lacrosse sticks to axles The field area inclines to the center of the table, making the game a challenge.
"The neatest attribute of the game," says Wilton, "is that one player can throw the ball to another player who can catch and throw the ball all in one motion. Lacrosse players recognize this motion as one-timing or quick-sticking."
After some trial and error with design, Wilton's finished product, including a plexiglass cover, was ready for patent. He applied for a patent in March 1995 and it was granted in January 1996. He then began seeking investors and buyers for his game. He has promoted miniature lacrosse to arcade owners, colleges and lacrosse companies, but has not yet found a buyer. But, his love of the game endures. Last spring, he founded yet another lacrosse program for the Henrico County Parks and Recreation department.
Wilton still awaits his first sale; but he's not resting on his laurels. As he seeks investors, he coaches lacrosse and instructs in the G.E.D. program at the Women's Pocahontas Correctional Center in Chesterfield.
Story by Karen Boxley ('01)